Beneath the Surface

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Nail Biting: Why You Should Stop and Tips to Help

Studies show that 60% of children and 45% of teenagers bite their nails. Nail biting becomes less common after age 18, but for many adults, it becomes a habit and they continue. Should you be concerned if you’re a chronic nail biter?

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Dermatologists say yes – chronic nail biting can cause serious problems. Of course, there is the problem of leaving skin around your nails sore, but what is also concerning is that repeated nail biting can damage the tissue that makes nails grow. This will leave your nails looking abnormal in appearance. What’s worse? Nail biting also leaves you prone to infection because you can create open sores that let germs in and you can pass harmful bacteria and viruses from your fingers to your mouth. Nail biting has also been shown to cause problems with your teeth and even cause an infection in your gums.

Tips to Stop Nail Biting

However, we understand that nail biting becomes a habit. In many cases, adults don’t even realize when they are biting their nails. Therefore, here are a few dermatologist-approved tips to help you kick the habit:

1. Replace the nail-biting habit with a good habit.

A stress ball may keep your hands busy and away from your mouth.

2. Identify your triggers.

By knowing what causes you to bite your nails, you can determine how to avoid the situation and make a plan to stop.

3. Try to gradually stop biting your nails.

Doctors suggest starting with one set of nails first, for example, your thumb nails first. When that’s successful, eliminate another finger until you can eliminate an entire hand.

4. Get regular manicures.

Applying a bitter-tasting polish or acrylic tips may prevent you from biting your nails, and spending money to keep your nails looking attractive may make you less likely to bite them.

Additional tips are demonstrated in, “Nail-Biting: tips to Stop” from the American Academy of Dermatology.

If you think it’s time to talk to a board-certified dermatologist about your nail-biting habit, start an online visit with DermatologistOnCall. Doctors in your area are waiting to provide you with a personalized treatment plan at your convenience.

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